The Undead have taken over at Six Flags as the 20th annual Fright Fest has begun. This year’s event features a couple new attractions so let’s get right to it.
Overall the park’s been decked out for the season with spider webs everywhere, a blood red fountain, purple colored streetlights, gravesites abound, and a myriad of other details scattered about in store windows and around landscaped areas. At 6pm the park comes alive with ghouls courtesy of ‘The Awakening’.
‘The Awakening’ is each night’s kick-off event of Fright Fest which begins at 6pm and introduces the “fright by night” as the undead are released into the park. The show is about 10 minutes and builds up quite the crowd, I’d say about 200 or so folks were gathered around by the time it got started. The Ghoulmaster summons his servants and brings Dr. Fright to life and the obligatory ‘Thriller’ plays as a handful of zombies dance. My initial thoughts were how amazingly great ‘Thriller’ and Vincent Price’s VO still is, but I felt a little weird enjoying it with all of the real-life drama going on around MJ’s murder trial. All that said, the choreography will be familiar, the ghoulies all look great with tremendous makeup and wardrobe. After the ‘Thriller’ sequence the Ghoulmaster heads out and the ‘Dead Man’s Party’ show begins.
‘Dead Man’s Party’ runs a couple times a night and features a crew of 8 undead dancing and singing to some appropriate songs like Evanescence’s Bring Me to Life, KC & The Sunshine Band’s I’m Your Boogieman, and Sweet’s Ballroom Blitz. All in all, the 25 minute show goes through about 10 songs with different undead each taking a crack on leading vocals. It was well done and again, the dancing and chorography were great. There’s OK special effects as well with fog, fire and small-scale fireworks. After the show the talent sticks around and talks and takes pictures with anyone who’s interested. You can get a nice up-close look at them and really appreciate the make-up work.
We headed over to ‘The Ghoulmaster’s Ghosts’ show following ‘Dead Man’s Party’. This show takes place in the theater so it accommodates a couple hundred folks. Now this was our first Fright Night experience, but apparently the Ghoulmaster seems to be a local favorite as there were kids abound that could not have been more excited to see him. Overall, the show is just about average. Some dance numbers and what seemed like a rather forced story/character development layered on top of the 25 minute show. The real highlight here is the production value with a nice set, great costumes, and a very cool dance routine with a movie screen backdrop routine about halfway through. [SPOILER] There was great comic relief too with an old man who enters the theater prior to the show and makes a scene ‘Jackass’ style and then gets incorporated into the show later on. The biggest miss was the lip-synching, when sitting up close it was painful to watch them mouth all the dialog.
Next we hit up the terror trails. In general these trails are the highlight of Fright Fest. There always seemed to be lines to get in, with waits ranging from 10 minutes to over an hour. There is an extra charge to walk the trails as well, with prices at $7 per, or a pass for all of them for $15. There is also a Scare Pass which is $50 that gets you entry and allows you to bypass the line. All of the trails have groups of about 10-20 people walking through pathways and set pieces as the ghouls try to give you a scare. Walking at an average pace, it takes about 10 minutes or so to get through. Highlights for us were definitely the reactions of the other folks in the group, many of which seemed to be absolutely petrified. We should note we weren’t allowed to take pictures or video on the terror trails so we’ll just give you an overview of each, though it’s the visual, visceral experience that makes it worthwhile.
‘Escape from the Asylum’ was the first one we hit up. As the name suggests, the theme here is a mental hospital with many of the talent running around in straightjackets and being completely loony. Lots of fog and hospital gear lying around. There is a sequence with strobe light and chainsaw wielding monster that was very well done. There were a couple jump-out scary moments with the baddies hiding around the next corner and catching you by surprise.
We then went across Movietown to Adventure Screamport and checked out ‘Demented Forest’. Set up with a nice variety of outdoor and nature-centric areas that you pass through, this trail seemed to have the ghouls sneaking up and breathing down your neck. The tribal area with heads on spikes looked great, the deserted playground was indeed creepy, and there were even some very interesting killer clowns and tree people milling around, all this concluded with a tense corn maze (though there was only one path so not technically a maze).
Before heading over to the final terror trail we went and did ‘The Haunted Heist’. This is their laser tag area which has been redone for Fright Night to mirror the famous scene with Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment. The room is about 40’ x 15’ and when you go in you press the start button. Laser beams shoot out from the walls and you need to make your way across the room trying not to interrupt the beams. There are a couple ghouls in the room as well making things a little tougher. But we crawled and rolled our way through the room. It was a fun time for sure, though definitely not worth the $5/person price tag. All in all, the whole thing probably takes 30-60 seconds.
We then checked out the Demon Barber of Main Street who comes out and sings some haunting showtunes, including tunes from Phantom of the Opera and Sweeney Todd. This was the first show of the evening we saw that was performed live (no lip-syncing) so credit due there. There was one ghoul performing this show and he was decked out nicely, sang well and interacted with everyone in the crowd watching. Good for him and a nice little break if you’re looking to sit down.
On our way to the final terror trail we watched a bit of the Fright Fest Freakshow which featured a fine showman and his beautiful assistant. They seemed to have some real talent breaking spaghetti with a whip, juggling some very sharp objects, and other craziness. All of this while entertaining the assembled crowd with witty banter and some quick humor.
The final stop on our Terror Trail was the ‘Project XI’ which is a new attraction this year. This was the best of the three trails we visited. It was paced very nicely. The path was built through some temporary walls which created a narrow passageway and rooms filled with funeral parlor objects. Some great effects throughout the trail and good amount of ghouls scattered about to put a scare into anyone daring to walk through.
On our way out we visited the Lakefront Graveyard. This was set-up similar to the Terror Trails; however there is no charge to walk through here and you’re free to just go through at your own pace. They had some great graveyard stuff scattered about, including beat-up cars and tombstones, as well as tons of undead running around scaring folks. It was nice and open so lots to look at. You needed to keep your wits about you at all times as the scares come from every direction. At one point a girl walking in front of me actually turned around and grabbed my arm, making me walk her through about 20 yards of trail until she could regain her composure. The final bit worth noting on the Fright Night front was the Local Music Showcase that has local bands playing a stage by the lake. Good to see some real live music going on. And all of the ghouls, when not scaring someone, could not have been friendlier as they stopped for photos and interacted with park-goers.
For gamers, there is a SEGA Game Zone over at the boardwalk where you can go play (for free) Sonic Generations, Rise of Nightmares or House of the Dead Overkill – Extended Cut. And, aside from the Fright Fest festivities, be sure and check out what has to be one of the best coasters in the world, El Toro (not sure if it was because Fright Night was going on, but we walked onto the coaster with no wait). And we were also able to check out the Houdini ride/attraction, which we’d always bypassed on previous visits to the park, but it was actually extremely cool! Highly recommended.
A special thanks to Six Flags Great Adventure for the opportunity to visit the park and allowing us access to the Terror Trails. Be sure to checkout the official Six Flags Great Adventure Fright Fest website for ticket information, park hours, and more.